Towing and Camping
Instructions for a successful Camping Trip in Aguadream (1956 Shasta Trailer)
You are towing and camping in a trailer that has been in use on and off for 60 years. It has traveled at least 20,000 miles and has traveled the Western US. She got a nearly full restoration in 2011 and has been regularly inspected and well maintained. That said, she shows her character and should not be considered a “new” trailer. Treat her with the respect you’d give someone who’s earned it over the years and she’ll reward you with a wonderful experience.
Pre-departure Orientation-- On the assigned pick up day, please allow 1 hour or so for orientation to the trailer and a test drive and back up lesson. See the pre-departure checklist from Outdoorsy here. We will also confirm contact information, and agree on a general time frame for your return.
Return Process: Please text me as soon as you are in range on your way back with an ETA (remember you are only going 55 max). Please plan your return to be at least 1.5 hours before sunset so that we have adequate light. When you arrive we will review the Renter Return Form from Outdoorsy here. The return will probably take a little bit less time than the drop off.
Equipment on Board
There is a working propane stove (oven doesn’t work), and ice box (yep I’ll start you off with a block of ice), 12v battery operated lights and fantastic van. There is also plenty of storage inside and in the luggage compartment. If your campground is so equipped you can also connect to “shore power” and city water. Otherwise, this is a “dry” camper. She doesn’t have a bathroom or shower. She will come stocked with the items listed on the Camping Checklist. Portapotty, solar shower, changing tent and other items can be rented as add-on items. You can see what's available and order on the Camping supplies order form
I strongly encourage you to watch some of the videos by the folks at Long Long Honeymoon posted here on my blog or on YouTube. especially if you are new to towing a Travel Trailer.
Dry Weight 1500 lbs Tongue Weight 150lbs Hitch: 2inch ball Wiring: 7 blade RV connector.
Your tow vehicle should be rated to tow at least 2700 lbs and that you have at least a Class II hitch with a 2 inch receiver, and wiring set up to accommodate the 7 blade RV connector. If your vehicle doesn’t have a wiring harness, or has a 4 flat connector, you will need to find a proper adapter. Please refer to this link at etrailer.com. Uhaul and etrailer.com are useful vendors for hitches, wiring harnesses, receivers etc. Uhaul has very reasonable prices for installation of these items. I have several sets of drawbars (the piece with the ball on it) with various drops to accommodate different vehicles. If you are having trouble with this, please don’t wait until the last minute to let me know. I’ll help you figure it out. Popular Mechanics has a great article on how to tow a trailer. Please read it!
Packing the trailer
1. It's best if the heaviest items are stored in the front of the trailer. Ideally, 2/3 of your packed items should be in front of the wheels and 1/3 behind. Utilize the under bed storage for items like chairs, camp supplies, and lighter bulky items. Keeping the weight low.
2. Drain coolers of ice.
3. Make sure all items that could move around or break in transit are safely packed away.
- Make sure that front and back of trailer are clear of obstacles and that doors, windows, and fan are all closed and locked (if applicable). Make sure that loose items that could move during travel are secured or packed away.
- Remove trailer jacks from front of trailer.
- Attach mirrors to your tow vehicle and adjust for proper visibility.
- Align vehicle hitch ball beneath coupler. This is a 2 person job. Be patient. Get roughly lined up and then get out of the vehicle and eyeball it. Get back in and let your partner guide you in.
- Making sure that hitch latch is open, crank jack to engage. Engage hitch latch. Secure hitch lock through latch.
- Remove trailer jacks from rear of trailer.
- Cross safety chains in an X below the hitch and secure to receiver brackets.
- Plug in 7 way wiring connector.
Observe how the trailer and Tow Vehicle are aligned. Ideal set up is for both to be in a line. You never want the back of the trailer to be lower than the front of the trailer. If necessary shift items around inside the trailer to achieve balance.
Check that all lights work (turn signals, brake, and marker and taillights) If lights don’t work, check the connection at the adapters, then check the frame screws for proper ground (this will be part of pre-flight check off) and if all else fails—call for roadside assistance.
Check under and around the trailer to make sure that everything is clear.
TOWING WATCH THIS.
- Please obey all traffic laws. In California that means 55 mph. Yeah it’s going to take you longer to get there than usual….but hey you’re on vacation right?
- Leave plenty of room for stopping and slowing down. A length (tow vehicle plus trailer = ~24ft for each ten miles of speed) so at 50 mph you’ll want 125 ft or so between you and next vehicle.
- Do not use cruise control and turn off overdrive and use your gears. If going over mountain passes, turn off your AC and even turn on the heat to keep your transmission cool. If you start to overheat…..pull over right away and let things cool down.
- Your trailer doesn’t have its own brakes. In essence it will be pushing you down the hill, and yovehicle'sles brakes will have to work much harder. DOWNSHIFT to allow your engine to do some of the braking for you.
- Know your blindspots! Turn to look and use your mirrors, and passengers to help you determine when it is safe to pass or change lanes.
- Slow way down at railroad tracks and speed bumps. The trailer will bounce and the faster you are traveling the bigger the bounce.
- Slow down when it’s windy. If you don't feel like you can control the traile, PULL OVER and wait it out.
- Don’t be one of those people. Be courteous to the vehicles behind you. Pull over when it’s safe to let others pass.
Pulling your Trailer into the Campsite.
1. Hopefully you have reserved a site with pull through access. If not, you’ll need to back in.
a. Take one or more deep breaths and get really relaxed and focused.
b. SAFETY FIRST
c. Recruit a helper. This is a two person job. I have provided walkie talkies to assist you with this job.
d. Scope out/ walk around the area you are backing into. Look for landmarks (trees etc) that you can use as focal points to spot in your mirrors. Try to map out exactly where you want the trailer to go and note any obstacles that need to be maneuvered around.
e. Get back in your vehicle. If you need to drive back around and approach the site so that you can get in a scoop position with the trailer as shown in the video above.
f. Take your time and slowly work your way into the site as instructed in the video. Remember the steering wheel direction is opposite. Have your helper use driver’s side passenger side instead of right and left to help you navigate.
Get the trailer as level as you can. You want to make sure that you are as level as possible side to side (wheels) as you can. Since there are only 2 wheels to worry about this is usually not a big deal. Just watch out for ruts or hills. If necessary pull forward or backward in the site to level.
Place jacks at their lowest position approximately where you want them. Rear jacks should be positioned under the steel frame members behind the wheels, front jacks on the steel members ahead of the wheels. There’s no magic spot, and you may have to move around. These just supplement the wheels and the jack, especially so you don’t tip backwards when you are lying on the bed!
Make sure the door is in a spot where the footstool is on level ground.
Reposition the jacks so the trailer is level front to back. Use the jack to help and the torpedo level.
Congratulations, you're at CAMP!!!!!
Camp Set up
Awning-- Awning is stored with its poles and guy lines in the under bed storage compartment. Thread awning through awning rail. Adjust poles to desired height and secure lines with stakes or to nearby trees to hold in place.
Water —If provided, you may hook up the white drinking water hose to the connecting UNDER the wheel well of the trailer on the driver’s side. DON’T use the water-fill inlet, it is NOT HOOKED UP.
Graywater-- Attach the graywater drain tube and place in the black 16qt container to capture drain water. This will enable you to use the faucet in the sink. Please check the level in the graywater drain and empty when about 2/3 full.
Electricity – Turn on the battery switch, located below the dinette seat (access via sliding door). This will operate the fan, lights, and 12v plug near the bed. There is also an inverter which will convert 12v power to 110v. Use this sparingly but it should be fine for charging electronics. DO NOT use it for microwave, hairdryers, or other electric appliances (we’re camping, right?!) If electrical hookups (shore power) are provided, plug the extension cord into the trailer outlet on the driver’s side below the dinette seat. Plug the other end into the outlet tower for your camp site. You will be able to use the electrical outlets for 110 appliances you may have brought. Now feel free to use those appliances but don’t go overboard.
Propane Stove and Lamp in Trailer. If you are going to use the stove. Turn on the propane tank on the driver’s side of the front of the trailer. Use the lighter to light the burners. They are not powerful, but are good for heating water for coffee in the morning or making oatmeal, eggs etc… If you are interested in cooking things faster, use the propane camp stove at your picnic table. Turn off the propane each time you are done cooking. The lamp above the dinette also operates on propane, simply turn the key and use the lighter to light it. Extra mantles are in the 2nd drawer.
More information on the trailers systems can be found in the trailer.
Set up your camp as you like it. Check the campground rules to see where food should be stored, pet rules, quiet hours etc… Scope out the bathrooms and campground cleaning areas to see if dishwashing is allowed. Does the campground recycle? If BEARS are in the area—Please do not keep any food or scented items in the trailer. Keep them in the provided bear locker.